Wide binaries from the H3 survey: The thick disc and halo have similar wide binary fractions

Hsiang Chih Hwang, Yuan Sen Ting, Charlie Conroy, Nadia L. Zakamska, Kareem El-Badry, Phillip Cargile, Dennis Zaritsky, Vedant Chandra, Jiwon Jesse Han, Joshua S. Speagle, Ana Bonaca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Due to the different environments in the Milky Way's disc and halo, comparing wide binaries in the disc and halo is key to understanding wide binary formation and evolution. By using Gaia Early Data Release 3, we search for resolved wide binary companions in the H3 survey, a spectroscopic survey that has compiled ∼150 000 spectra for thick-disc and halo stars to date. We identify 800 high-confidence (a contamination rate of 4 per cent) wide binaries and two resolved triples, with binary separations mostly between 103 and 105 au and a lowest [Fe/H] of-2.7. Based on their Galactic kinematics, 33 of them are halo wide binaries, and most of those are associated with the accreted Gaia-Sausage-Enceladus galaxy. The wide binary fraction in the thick disc decreases toward the low metallicity end, consistent with the previous findings for the thin disc. Our key finding is that the halo wide binary fraction is consistent with the thick-disc stars at a fixed [Fe/H]. There is no significant dependence of the wide binary fraction on the α-captured abundance. Therefore, the wide binary fraction is mainly determined by the iron abundance, not their disc or halo origin nor the α-captured abundance. Our results suggest that the formation environments play a major role for the wide binary fraction, instead of other processes like radial migration that only apply to disc stars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)754-767
Number of pages14
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 1 2022


  • Galaxy: Halo
  • binaries: General
  • stars: Abundances
  • stars: Kinematics and dynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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